John Legend Explains Origins of Live-Stream Concerts Initiative

Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show NBC and John Legend -Publicity_h 2020
Courtesy of NBC

"I feel like we're experiencing it together even though we're distancing from each other and we're helping each other get through it," Legend said of performing for audiences stuck at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

John Legend opened up about how he came up with the idea to live-stream concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced people to shelter indoors when he appeared on The Tonight Show: At Home Edition on Tuesday.

Legend was one of the first musicians to join the initiative that urges people to support the World Health Organization's fund to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Coldplay frontman Chris Martin kicked off the live-stream concerts, while other performers to participate in the initiative include Niall Horan, Common, Julianne Hough, Hozier, OneRepublic, Celeste, Rufus Wainwright, Lindsey Stirling, Juanes, Katie Couric, Evanescence, Bastille, Miguel, Alex Aiono, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes and Steve Aoki.

"All of us artists are home, including artists — a lot of artists were supposed to be on tour right now. My tour isn't until the summer," Legend told host Jimmy Fallon. "There are a lot of fans that are stuck at home and wish they could be out doing what they normally do and wish they could be out going to concerts and doing all these other fun things."

The singer explained that he thought the initiative was a good way to "bring everybody together."

Legend then credited Martin, who he said "was coming up with it around the same time I was."

"When I told my managers I wanted to do it, they were like, 'Oh, Chris Martin's gonna do one for Global Citizen,' which is an organization we had raised money for and broadcast some of their events on NBC and MSNBC," he continued.

"We thought it'd be cool to do it with Global Citizen, and we worked with the World Health Organization just trying to bring awareness to the idea that people should stay home and should distance from each other," he added. "We shouted out some of the organizations we were raising money for and tried to entertain people and bring people together."

Legend later reflected on how performing for a live stream was different than a live audience. "It's a little eerie," the singer admitted.

"Instagram Live has the comments popping up every time someone makes one, has the little hearts going. You actually get more detailed feedback from Instagram Live than you would get from an audience," he said. Legend noted that live-streamed performances don't include "the cheers," but they do allow fans to write what they like and request songs.

"You would never get that from the audience unless you stopped and asked for detailed feedback from each individual," Legend added.

While the singer acknowledged that "there are many dark sides to this moment," he said that he hoped the live streams act as "some of the silver linings that we have."

"I feel like we're experiencing it together even though we're distancing from each other and we're helping each other get through it," he concluded.

Watch the full episode of The Tonight Show: At Home Edition below.